BOE OK’s $456k in capital costs; $4M bond referendum coming

03/27/2014 8:00 AM |
BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO

The Riverhead school board voted to upgrade various parts of the school’s infrastructure Tuesday night, approving the use of $456,000 from the district’s capital reserve fund. In addition, they decided to offer the voting public a $3.98 million bond proposition that will be on the May ballot for bus purchases. 

The school board voted 6-0 to approve both measures during its regular meeting. Vice President Greg Meyer was absent.

The school board held a public hearing to discuss the capital reserve proposal following Superintendent Nancy Carney’s presentation outlining the projects.

The proposal lists several repairs to the high school, including: paint ($230,000), interior and exterior door exit devices ($28,800), HVAC roof top temperature controllers ($79,200) and a hot water mixing valve ($8,200).

Additional proposed construction includes: the middle school’s boiler room valves ($10,800) and boiler section ($9,500); Roanoke Avenue Elementary School’s gymnasium floor ($66,000) and condensate tank pumps and floats ($9,500); as well as flooring for five classrooms at Aquebogue Elementary School ($14,000).

School board member Amelia Lantz expressed concern that hot water in the high school girl’s locker room hasn’t worked properly for a year and also requested the district determine the feasibility of repairing the middle school’s boiler room valves, which date from the 1960s, as opposed to purchasing new ones.

“Can we look into those valves a little bit further and see if possibly a refurbishing of them is more cost effective?” she asked. “I would like a little bit more information to see if it’s feasible.”

Assistant superintendent Sam Schneider said at the meeting he would find out the repair cost and share that information with the board.

While taxpayers voted down a $122 million bond in 2009, residents later approved both a scaled-down $78.3 million capital improvement bond project in 2011, as well as a referendum to establish a repair reserve fund of up to $5 million to pay for infrastructure upgrades.

Construction paid through the bond at the high school started this summer. In August, the school board approved using nearly $1.7 million from the repair reserve fund to pay for additional high school construction projects.

In addition to approving the capital reserve fund projects, the school board voted in favor of placing two ballot proposition proposals on the May 20 budget ballot.

The first one is for a new $3.98 million bond proposal for bus purchases.

Ms. Carney said that if the bond is approved, the district will be able to buy about 35 large propane-powered buses, as well as about five handicapped vans, over a five-year span.

She added that voters authorized a program in 2007 to purchase school buses each year, retiring old vehicles in the process. However, that five-year program has ended and those funds have been spent. The $3.98 million would be spent over a five-year period, Ms. Carney said.

“The state has frequently commended us for having an excellent inspection safety record,” she said. “One of the ways we achieve this is by having newer vehicles on the road.

“If we were to stop replacing older buses, we would have to spend a great deal more money on repair costs in order to meet the safety standards imposed on us by the NYS Department of Transportation.”

The school board also approved a second ballot proposition to grant an easement to L.I. Head Start. Ms. Carney said the district sold a portion of land at Phillips Avenue School in Riverside to Headstart for about $10 in 1994.

During recent renovation work at Phillips, Ms. Carney said the county health department discovered the land transfer was “never formalized.”

“In order to receive a final operating permit for the new sanitary system at Phillips, the transfer must be recognized by the county,” she said.